The SNO Report: Getting griddy with it

Getting griddy with it: possibilities for the new grid template

Ever wanted to try a “Humans of New York”-style feature on your site, using multiple photographs and short anecdotes or interviews for each? You’re not alone! We’ve gotten zillions of questions about the best way to design these stories, and after scratching our heads for a while, we’ve come up with a story page template that makes creating “stories within stories” a snap. Meet the grid template!

This template has more moving parts than your average story, so it can be a little confusing at first to set up. Just follow these guidelines, and you’ll be on your way.

Like the longform and side-by-side templates,the grid template requires a “container” story as well as “chapter” stories in order to work properly. You should create the container story first. When you create the chapters, you’ll need to make sure each is associated with the container–you’ll be able to choose this from a drop-down menu when you select the grid chapter template.

Your container should be set to at least one category, as usual. Your chapters, however, should remain uncategorized, to prevent them from displaying individually in your category widgets.

Use crisp, clear featured images for each chapter. You’ll get the best results if all of them are the same size and horizontally oriented.

Your container can make use of an immersive featured image. If you decide to go this route, make sure the featured image is larger than normal (we recommend 1500×1000) so that it doesn’t get blurry when expanded.

Having trouble viewing the final product? Make sure all pieces of the story (chapters and container) are fully published.

You can see some more information about the grid template on our help site. Not feeling the Humans of Wherever thing? That’s OK! There are as many possibilities for this template as there are stars in the sky. (Well, almost.) Check out The Little Hawk’s story on freshman athletes to watch.

Famous alum, a club that empowers, why one student #standswithPP: this week on Best of SNO

Has anyone famous gone to your high school? Two of our Best of SNO picks this week know the feeling; with one alum succeeding in the music industry, and the other a former NFL star, the high schools in the SNO Network are educating some seriously impressive people. Don’t have any famous alumni to boast about? No worries– sometimes a new cafeteria, or even a really cool club, is enough to get you noticed. And we noticed all of that and more this week on Best of SNO; read on for our weekly picks, submitted and written by students just like you.

The Cedar Post interview with former NFL Star Jerry KramerOakley Pettit, Sports Editor, Sandpoint High School
“Kramer began his football career here in Sandpoint as an offensive lineman under Coach Cotton Barlow in the 1950s. He was then recruited to the University of Idaho where he played for four years. After a standout collegiate career, he was selected 39th overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1958 NFL draft.”

Prismo aims for fameNoah Sanchez, Klein Collins High School
“That’s when it truly hit me that I had reached an audience that I could barely even dream about a year ago. In that moment I realized that I have the potential to achieve things beyond my dreams.”

Students react to new cafeteriaRichard Dye, Santaluces Community High School
“From Asian Experience to Cafe Sol y Mar, more and more students are using the new and improved cafeteria. For the most part, students are happy with the food choices, big-screen television sets and faster lines. Other than the food court-like setting, the biggest change has been having three lunch periods during fifth period.”

How to help 62 million girls rise Natalie Kim, Watchung Hills Regional High School
“Yes, we have glass ceilings to break right here in America, but we need to progress as a world together, and we need to help these girls catch up to where they should be. They should be running for president, becoming professionals, and supporting themselves, not fighting for the right to step foot in a schoolhouse.”

Why I stand with Planned Parenthood Lulu Stracher, Staples High School
“What defunding Planned Parenthood actually does is prevent women, especially low income women who have no other form of health care, from receiving safe and accessible reproductive services.”

Want to see your own story featured on Best of SNO?We love featuring student journalism that’s interesting, well-written, and takes a unique angle on the stories we see every day. If you think you have what it takes, polish up that story (or video or multimedia piece) and submit it right here!

The SNO Report: SNO Resources To Boost Your Knowledge And Your Teaching

At SNO, we take care of the technology, so you can focus on the journalism. Many sources offer journalism curriculum — lessons on conducting an interview, taking great photos or polishing your lead — yet few sources exist to meet the specific challenges you face in managing a scholastic news website.

You don’t have to start from scratch or spend a lot of money. As your partner in publishing online we’ve developed some resources for you. Our growing list ofclassroom tools such as job descriptions, story and design checklists and even a workflow chart (all as PDF files), gives you a sense of best practices for online newsroom management.

SNO Team members have presented instructional sessions at conventions from coast to coast, and look for us at national conventions this fall. If you have not been able to attend these sessions, we’ve made the presentations available at Slideshareto view online and for you to use with your staff. You missed us in person, but this is the next best thing!

Even better than a 50-minute convention session is a full day of in-person training customized to the needs of your staff or other group. On these SNO Days we come to meet your staff, a group of advisers in a school district or region, or present a strand at your upcoming conference. In July, our team helped more than 30 schools get a jump start on the school year with a SNO Day in Dallas. Those teachers smartly teamed up to organize the training and share the expense, making the training a real value. Is a SNO Day right for your staff, group, or convention? Contact Kari at [email protected] to discuss fees and possibilities.

No matter your budget or location, SNO has a resource to help you improve what you do as a teacher and adviser.

Unusual snacks, superstar teachers, and halftime drama: this week on Best of SNO

Did you know that more than 80% of the world eats insects on a regular basis? Neither did we, but thanks to the Best of SNO inbox, we now know that crickets are apparently super good for you. (So is kale, but you won’t see us eating that…) Here are some other things we learned this week: public displays of affection don’t count if they’re really, really short. Girls make pretty awesome quarterbacks. A halftime show at one school made a kid cry. And if your school’s in California, your new English teacher might end up being kind of famous. Read on for our weekly picks, submitted and written by students just like you.

Crickets become the new protein sourceJohn Bandek, Clark Magnet High School
“Whey, protein shakes, and protein bars — that’s what some students at Clark are talking about. However, there is a team of five students that have found a better alternative protein source: crickets.”

Band forced to revise halftime showGrace Mottley, The John Carroll School
“Five nights before their first nighttime performance of the year, the administration asked the Marching Band to rework the choreography of their halftime routine. The administration felt the routine was ‘too somber.’”

What it means to throw “Like A Girl”Brady Ruiter, Owatonna High School
“Most athletes can think of a time when they took their first steps on the game field. Freshman Mia Hiber’s memory is more recent than some of her teammates. Hiber is in her first year of organized football, but she is hardly a rookie. Having played backyard ball since first grade, Hiber has a “backyard element” to her game.”

Playwright, actress, journalist and former model joins English DepartmentHannah Jannol, Shalhevet High School
“She has interviewed celebrities for the Los Angeles Times, blogged for the Huffington Post, written a play, and appeared in the several movies. Her life and writing career have been a conglomerate of cool-sounding enterprises, but at Shalhevet, she will be teaching mostly literature.”

New rule on PDA brings mixed reactionsGarrett Gage, Leander High School
“During the first week of school, principal Tiffany Spicer unveiled ‘Catch and Release,’ a new approach to how staff handles student Public Displays of Affection, or PDA. The policy allows students to hug each other, but only for three seconds.”

Want to see your own story featured on Best of SNO? We love featuring student journalism that’s interesting, well-written, and takes a unique angle on the stories we see every day. If you think you have what it takes, polish up that story (or video or multimedia piece) and submit it right here!

Fowl, fwiends, and foreign exchange: this week on Best of SNO

The 2015-16 school year is well underway, and you know what that means — Best of SNO is back! Best of SNO is proud to showcase the very best student journalism being published by schools in our network. Check out this week’s selection of news that tickled our fancy: editorials, features, and a report on a rather ‘fowl’ science experiment.

Why I stand with Ahmed MohamedSadde Mohamed, St. John’s School
“I see a lot of myself in Ahmed. How could I not? He shares two-thirds of my name, looks a bit like I did when I was a freshman and is a black Muslim living in Texas. There is one thing, though, reminding me that he is not actually a clone of myself: his composure.”

Forensic science classes take fowl corpse of actionAllie Gruszkiewicz, Bearden High School
“It looks like a grotesque take of someone’s family dinner: a whole store-bought chicken hanging from the roof of a chain link cage. Bits of meat are rotted and just clinging on, and the insides are wriggling with maggots. The smell is harder to describe, but the phrase “dry-heave-inducing” does it some justice.”

18 Years Old, 6,000 Miles From HomeCaroline Britten, Groom High School
“His journey began in Moscow, Russia, a city with almost 12 million people. He flew 18 hours just to come to Groom, Texas, a town with the population of 563. Nikita Kolesnikov is participating in a foreign exchange program and is spending his second senior year halfway across the world from everything that he’d grown to know.”

Junior champions for human rights in VenezuelaLindsay Collier, Cypress Ranch High
“For most, the concepts of flagrant government corruption, violent repression of outspoken citizens, and torture of opposition leaders would seem more in place in a fantastical dystopian novel than reality. For junior Juan Galipoli, however, these ideas are far from fictional—in fact, these are things he has experienced firsthand.”

Flaming Lips poorly modernize classic albumHelen Wheatley, St. Teresa’s Academy
“The album, which is a track by track cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, features many artists such as Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, My Morning Jacket, and Phantogram. From start to finish, With a Little Help from My Fwends is mediocre at best. We can assume the album was supposed to sound extra psychedelic, but the sounds are so overly-electronic that it becomes hard to discern one layer of sound from the next.”

Think you’ve got what it takes to get featured on Best of SNO? We’re always publishing new and interesting stories (including video and multimedia). Check out our submission guidelines and submit your stuff here!

Take a Minnesota SNO Day and improve your website

Join us for an intense workshop packed with training and designed to help you learn and immediately put into practice methods to improve your website. The entire SNO Team will be on hand to meet you where you are and take you to the next level.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 89:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Where: SNO Global HQ, Burnsville

Price: $150 per school team
One adviser plus one or two students. Add a student for $50.
Fees include refreshments and a box lunch for each person.
To assist with planning, please reserve your spot by Nov. 25.

This kind of SNO Day doesn’t involve bad weather. It’ll be nothing but useful information, experienced guidance and a chance to focus on your website without distractions. Oh, and we’ll have cookies.

The day’s group instruction will concentrate on showing you methods to keep your site fresh, manage the content on your home page, improve the look and utility of your story pages and how to pluck relevant information from your analytics to make decisions about coverage and promotion. You’ll have time to interact with other schools and to practice what you’ve learned.

End the day with a personalized critique just for your site from a member of the SNO Team, starting at 1 p.m. You’ll leave in time to beat traffic and return to school.

Register here:

Best of SNO: Now open for submissions

Best of SNO showcases the best student journalism from members of the SNO Network (that’s you!) Why? We believe in recognition and inspiration–by displaying excellent work, we hope to inspire students with fresh ideas and new approaches to traditional news material. Many educators also use examples from Best of SNO as teaching tools in their classes.

Best of SNO is now open for submissions! We post new content daily, so we’re always on the prowl for great writing, original images, video, audio, and whatever else you’ve got up your sleeve. Stories submitted to Best of SNO should be previously published on your own news site. Simply put, we like good journalism–engaging, concise, and relevant–but for more detailed dos and don’ts, check out our guidelines here!

And it’s never too early to start thinking about the SNO Distinguished Sites program; with the school year in full swing, you’re no doubt curating and cultivating tons of great content– so why not get recognized for it? Starting in January, submissions for our Distinguished Sites program will open, but you can start working towards those badges right now.

SNO’s Distinguished Sites Program is composed of six separate badges, each representing a component of a successful news website. The badges are:

  • Continuous Coverage

  • Site Excellence

  • Story Page Excellence

  • Excellence in Writing

  • Multimedia

  • Audience Engagement

We’ve even come up with some new goals for you; because of our two new story page templates and SNO Story Elements, we’ve made some updates on the requirements for the Story Page Excellence badge. Out of the eight stories you submit for this particular badge:

You can apply for the badges in any order; for each set of standards reached, a badge will be displayed on the SNO client list next to that publication’s name. A site that earns all six badges will be considered a Distinguished Site. You can find more information about the Distinguished Sites program in our customer portal!

The SNO Report: Kickstart your school year with these new features

We hope you had a great summer! Whether you’re a brand-new adviser or a website pro, SNO wants to offer you an enthusiastic welcome back. We’ve got some great new features and updates to make you the rockstar of your journalism department this year. Keep reading to see what we’ve been working on.

Meet the new and improved FLEX
While you were having fun in the sun, the SNO Patrol was busy developing some new features we think you’ll love!

Side-by-side story template. This is a great option for displaying related stories, like pro and con opinion pieces, next to each other. It’s designed a bit like the longform template, with the ability to set an immersive featured image at the top. You can see an example of what it looks like here.

Want to try it out for yourself? Follow these easy instructions.

Three-column widget layout. When you place a SNO category widget in the Home Top Wide area, you’ll now see an option to create a three-column format. This format creates one, two, or three rows of featured images that sit directly above their associated headlines and teaser text. You can adjust the height and teaser length here as well.

New widget style option. By popular demand, we’ve added a sixth widget style to your site. It’s got a “flag” look to it that we think is pretty nifty! Design it to your liking under SNO Design Options>Widget Styles.

Live widget and menu customizer. You can still design your widgets and menus the old-fashioned way by clicking either option underneath Appearance. If you want to see how your site will look before saving your changes, though, navigate to Appearance>Customize Live — you’ll see a preview of your homepage that refreshes as you make changes.

Easily embed story elements. Adding pull quotes, polls, related stories, and other embeddable objects into your stories is easier than ever. When you’re editing a story, you can now click the “Add SNO Story Element” button to add in these elements and more. You can even search for related stories by title or keyword — no more hunting for story ID numbers.

New preset style starters. Check out the new style starters we’ve added. If you want to quickly give your site a makeover while preserving your widget layout and color scheme, navigate over to SNO Design Options>Preset Style Starters to try them out for yourself.

Introducing SNO Mobile: a dedicated app for iOS and Android
SNO sites are (and always will be) 100% mobile-responsive, right out of the box,even without an app. But for those schools that want to take their sites’ accessibility, convenience, and readership to the next level, we’re now offering a dedicated app that’s crafted just for you. Here’s a small sample of what you get with SNO Mobile:

Push notifications. Instantly alert your fans when new stories are posted on your site.

Seamless syncing. Your SNOMobile app and SNO site are linked, so any time you post a new story on your site, your app will reflect it immediately.

Grow readership. SNOMobile apps work effortlessly with the native social media features of Apple and Android systems.

Want to know more? Read all about SNO Mobile here. We’d love to get to work on your app today.

Unlimited support (as always!)
Enjoy the new school year, and remember: we’re always here when you need us. Simply chat, email, or send us a support ticket — we’ll reply to you with lightning speed.

All our best,
The SNO Patrol

Need a good way to celebrate Constitution Day?
Members of Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee have developed several ways to learn about and explore the Constitution. View the lesson plans or view this video to see how to incorporate activities for the Sept. 17 event.

SNOMobile: Premium iOS and Android apps for scholastic journalism programs

We’ve got some exciting news for you. We’ve been listening to your requests, and after many months of research and development, we’re ready to roll out the premium service you’ve been asking for. That’s right–SNOMobile, our dedicated app for Mac and Android devices, is finally here!

We want to be clear: your SNO site is and always will be 100% mobile-responsive, right out of the box, even without an app. Our WordPress theme is designed to display beautifully on any screen. Readers will have a great experience whether they’re viewing your homepage on a 23” monitor or a 3” smartphone.

So rest assured, you don’t need an app. That said, SNOMobile offers several features that go above and beyond the call of duty. Here are just a few of the perks:

Push notifications. Keep your student body up-to-date on the latest school news. SNOMobile integrates with the native Mac and Android notification systems, and can instantly alert your fans when new stories are posted on your site.

Seamless syncing. Your SNOMobile app and SNO site are linked, so any time you post a new story on your site, your app will reflect it immediately.

Student access. Schools often provide students with iPads or tablets loaded only with district-approved apps. When general internet access is restricted, it can be tough to drive traffic to your page–but the SNOMobile app gives students the ability to view your site independently of a browser.

Grow readership. SNOMobile apps work effortlessly with the native social media features of Mac and Android systems. With a couple taps of a stylus or fingertip, a news story you post today could go viral on Twitter tomorrow.

Our apps are uniquely crafted for each school, and though they may seem tiny in size, creating them is a time- and cost-intensive process. We want our pricing to always remain transparent. The yearly cost of the app is $500 for hosting, support, and ongoing updates. Additionally, a one-time setup cost of $300 covers the initial development and customization of your app.

SNOMobile is a premium product with a premium price tag, and we understand the cost isn’t feasible for many schools. That’s why we pledge to always keep your SNO site looking great on all devices–we’ll never force you to pay extra for mobile-readiness. The SNOMobile app is just an extra, delicious layer of frosting on the cake you already have!

Want to take a look at an app we’ve already released into the world? Check out the Knight Errant, from Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park, Minn.:

Ready to order your very own app? Just click here to fill out the order form, and our developers will get to work pronto. As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know–we’re all ears.

Save $50 on FLOW from SNO

It’s barely August, but for many schools across the country, the 2015-16 school year is approaching fast. For journalism educators, that means training in new editors, planning new issues, creating new lesson plans, and more. Whether the publication in question is a website or a print paper, there’s no question that advising a scholastic news program involves a lot of moving parts. Luckily we’ve created FLOW, an all-in-one newsroom management system designed by advisers, for advisers.

Online news sites and print editions, magazines, even yearbooks–FLOW’s got them all covered. This intuitive, web-based platform allows advisers to track each step in the publication process. From story assignments to final layouts, from fact-checking to entering grades, streamlining your newsroom is only a few clicks away.

FLOW maximizes efficiency and promotes student focus by showing editors only the tasks that are currently assigned to them. Advisers, on the other hand, can monitor what each staff member or student is currently working on. The entire team can see when each news item is expected to be published.

FLOW is completely customizable, just like our WordPress websites. Advisers can sort and filter assignments and tasks in a way that makes sense for them–by student, section, or media type, by deadline or draft status. A handy calendar displays the publication schedule. A notifications feature will even send out an email when a story is ready for editing.

Maybe the coolest thing about FLOW is that it links seamlessly to articles and images in Google Drive, Dropbox, or WordPress. Plus, the program is accessible from any computer with an internet connection, so advisers and students can stay connected to the newsroom no matter where they are.

“Every adviser should have FLOW,” said Tracy Anderson, adviser at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It is perfectly organized…to handle 100 journalism students and two publications. It is absolutely incredible.”

Advisers can sign up for a free FLOW test drive or live phone demo at Additionally, entering the offer code SNOPATROL when placing an order will automatically apply a $50 discount.

Replace the whiteboard. Ditch the spreadsheets. Throw away the sticky notes. We’re confident that using FLOW will make 2015-16 the best school year ever!